Obama in peace with pot users

Administration won't spare federal resources

Obama in Peace with pot users

Obama in Peace with pot users

After clashes between federal and state entities, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced on Monday that he will hold an upcoming hearing on the many conflicting regulations regarding marijuana laws.

The expected hearing will come after 20 states created a buzz by approving the use of marijuana for medical purposes while it is still illegal under federal law. Two other states, Colorado and Washington, have approved the drug for recreational purposes.

The state laws are in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substance Act, which considers marijuana a dangerous and illegal substance.

"It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal," Leahy said in a released statement. "I believe that these state laws should be respected. At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government."

Leahy has maintained a relaxed attitude toward prosecuting marijuana dispensaries that are legal in some states, but illegal on the federal level. He has regularly called for the Obama Administration to clear the air regarding its position on the substance.

Last week, administration spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama won’t call for any change to federal drug laws. He added that the White House’s position "has been clear and consistent for some time now that while the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, the president and the administration believe that targeting individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation for federal law enforcement resources."

Both the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service have gone after marijuana businesses deemed legal at the state level. For example, medical marijuana dispensaries in California are not allowed to deduct standard operating expenditures from their taxes. In Montana, a federal posturing on medical marijuana businesses pressured state lawmakers into voting to overturn the legalization. Montana’s Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed the move to repeal.

Leahy has invited both Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify at the upcoming hearing.

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